RMS Republic (2nd)
White Star Line RMS Republic (2nd)1903-1917 (sank)
One of two true White Star Line "Treasure Ships" (the other being Laurentic) Republic was originally built for IMM's Dominion Line and named Columbus. After only two voyages she was sold to White Star and renamed Republic. On January 23, 1909 she left New York bound for Naples, Italy. While passing Nantucket in a dense fog, she was suddenly rammed ironically by the Italian liner, Florida. She was struck amidships on the port side and the engine room began flooding immediately.
Fitted with an early version of the 1.5 watt Marconi wireless radio, Republic became the first vessel in maritime history to use the new SOS distress call. One of her White Star Line sister ship's, the Baltic, acknowledged the call an came to assist. A U.S. Coast Guard Cutter in the vicinity also responded. The Coast Guard crew boarded the Republic and tried to slow her flooding with collision mats. A daring "at sea" passenger transfer took place and 1,600 passengers were dispersed between the cutter and the Baltic. Only 4 lives were lost. The next morning Republic sank becoming the largest liner to-date to be lost at sea. The White Star Line received compensation after suing the Lloyd Italiano Line and winning a negligence suit.
It's been rumored that Republic was carrying a $265,000 U.S. Navy payroll that was intended to be delivered to the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet at Gibraltar. A sum that would be worth close to $6 million today. Another rumor regarding Republic's cargo is that she was carrying a secret (politically sensitive) shipment of newly minted American Gold Eagle coins that could have a present value of between $400 million and $1.6 billion depending on their present condition state. The wreck site was discovered in 1981. As far as is known, nothing has been recovered to-date.
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